I'm a 33 year old Mum of 2 kids (my ferals who are 3 and 4 years old) who lives with major depression, recurring suicidal thoughts and an autoimmune disease (Psoriatic Arthritis).
Hubby and I own 5 acres of wandoo bush in Western Australia which we call "The Block". He says it is cursed (stinking hot, bushfire prone ground as hard as rock) but for me my garden is my escape.
For anyone wondering… Yep I’m still alive… Just letting myself get lost in the garden for a while.
Words are escaping me lately. So I’ll go with pictures.
Arctosis “Hannah” starting to flower. Red is my favourite colour. Bright and cheerful. Our house will one day be painted red too. I want an explosion of colour. Bright. Cheerful. Happy. I want to look outside and feel warm always.
Driving to our block I saw a flash of RED. Miss 3 and I stopped and admired the first of the native pea flowers. I will find the name in time. It hit me this place is safe and home. Even the native flowers reach me within that dark place.
It feels like a lifetime I’ve waited for my scarlet leschenaultia to bloom. And at last it is here! Beautiful.
Taking my kids to the river park I spotted this little beauty! I’ve never seen a mushroom like this!
Crown of thorns. The flower is small but one day it will be an impressive shrub.
Today my thoughts are caught up in a whirl of red flowers. Too busy to feek yuck within.
Do you have a safe place you retreat to when you need to protect and guard yourself from harm?
My safe place is my garden. At times people have given me a confused look as if to say what good is a garden when you’re depressed and suicidal?
My answer is often about distraction and keeping busy and waiting out the pain but the deeper truth is my garden is quite simply a place where I don’t have to judge or hate myself.
Sometimes depression makes us angry at hurtful towards ourselves. It doesn’t help when people can’t understand and make comments such as why have you become so selfish? Courtesy and politeness cost nothing. Or you have it easy look at what the rest of the world struggles with. For me at least that just becomes evidence used within me to keep building the case against myself… “Why I am not a worthwhile human being”.
Utter bullshit we learn eventually… provided we are given support to survive and time and knowledge to learn to recognise what is happening within.
My garden doesn’t say anything. I can be a mess. I can swear or cry or just sit and stare and it makes no difference to my plants. They are still beautiful regardless.
Some days I can work until I’m exhausted and can sleep. Other days I just walk through the 5 acres and look at plants with a cup of tea in hand.
My garden is a protective space.
It gives me simple enjoyment of fresh air and sunshine.
A purpose and goal I can achieve or try again tomorrow or next week without pressure or guilt.
Adventure and anticipation hunting for wildflowers.
Peace and quiet.
Something to connect with others about which doesn’t have to involve mental illness.
Projects and interests and passions.
When depressed, I lose hope of ever feeling these things. But in my garden I can sometimes find those emotions. It reminds me those feelings are not lost just buried at the moment.
Being in my garden reminds me to turn off the phone and just exist for a moment. Just be in my safe place and let all the expectations of the world fall away.
I will return in time. I’ve missed all of your gardens in the Sixes on Saturday most of all.
For now I’m in my garden letting it protect me until I feel a little better inside.
My six this week is partly my garden and partly my parents in law. We share cuttings and plants often so I love coming to visit and see what surprises are in store…
1. Aloe sp. I have this at the block but this is the parent plant in bloom.
2. Crassula ovata. Another parent plant. I have grown so very many plants from pups from this plant. I love the flowers.
3. Not a plant but definately in the garden. The woodfired smoker my Father in law made (he is a steelworker). Pork roasts, soaked in brine, smoked for hours and then boiled and cooled. Mmmmmmm. He made us one too for our block. Food and gardening is the best combination.
4. Lantana montevidensis (the non prohibited groundcover species) in flower. I love these even if they don’t smell very nice. Common Lantana (L. camara) is a declared weed in WA.
5. Euphorbia flanaganii (Medusa’s Head). I grew this one from a piece broken off my Mum’s plant and gave it to my Father in law. He loves it and it has just thrived in the shady spot he keeps it.
6. My little friend at the block. I was collecting coffee rock for the dry stack retaining wall this week and this little cutie was hiding under a rock. I took a photo and then replaced the scorpion and the rock. Well that’s my neck of the woods for this week. I look forward to checking out all of your sixes too!
Let’s be honest here… Reading about someone’s epic fails is sometimes more fun than spectacular photos that make you feel inadequate 😂.
So here’s one I prepared earlier in the week. All dosed up on medication for my autoimmune arthritis and walking better than I had in months… it seemed like a good idea to pack a picnic and take the kids for a bushwalk.
We chose Helena Pipehead Trail in Kalamunda National Park. 13.5km along the Helena river and past the dam on return. On paper it sounded good…
Medium difficulty. Mostly graded tracks. Good boots. Gentle exercise for my joints. Even better for my depression. Get outdoors. Exhaust the kids. Sunshine. Nature. River. All good?
It was great too. Until we took the wrong turn on an old track down to the river.
Hubby decided it would be easier to climb up through the bush than to back track.
Our kids took one look at the scrubby bush above and said no way Dad.
And yet… I agreed. I can walk! Woohoo let’s push ourselves and climb up a steep hillside with a 3 and a 4 year old. Hmmmm!
The less said the better really. Miss 3 got her ponytail caught up in a particularly challenging climbing vine. My knee gave way and I went sliding down through mud to the kid’s delight.
Native bush plants and my kids were introduced to some truly spectacular curse words. For those not familar with West Australian bushland we have some truly horrible spiky plants. Lovely to look at. An utter pain to trapse and scrabble through.
When we finally reached the track and stopped to admire the view we saw a different kind of display… Is that a wrecked white car?!
Nursing bruised knees and covered in mud and scratches, we gave the kids piggyback rides back to the car and decided to try again next week (and stop at the chemist for some painkillers for me).
Trying to find positives I looked inside. No matter how much of a fail the walk was it did help for a little while. Exercise and sunshine does give me a time out from depression. Even a small reprieve is worth seizing.
Thankfully we passed these Hoveas on the way home which made the trip worth it don’t you think?
Some days things just don’t quite go to plan do they? If you have a failed nature experience to share I’d love to hear it. Realistics unite 😊.
Today my little family of ferals were out for a bush walk. I’ll write up a post later in the week to share the views.
I heard my email pinging from my backpack and it just added to the anticipation. Six on Saturday posts to look forward to devouring this week! Excellent! I will no doubt harrass you all soon with questions about your gardens 😊.
Naturally I had to include my favourite photo as today’s number one…
1. Hovea pungens “Devil’s Pins”.
I made hubby stop the car so I could take a photo. I love Hoveas. The ones on our block are a smaller species. This one is a knockout even driving past the purple stands out to be admired. 2. Acacia puchella “Prickly Moses”.
This wattle is everywhere and getting ready to flower. Can’t wait!
I cut these out from around the internal house area because the thorns will go through a shoe. I use welding gloves and rip them out. We never poison them because when they dry the needles are even harder. But the yellow blossom is worth it. Grows like a weed as it is a resurrection plant and is one of the first to grow after a fire. 3. Sturt Desert Peas seeds.
I ordered these from a rehabilitation company in Albany, WA. The seeds get soaked in boiling water for 5 mins. I’ve planted them in the sand retaining wall. They don’t like poor drainage and will drop dead unless careful about watering. Straight into the ground as they hate being transplanted too.
Last year the winter rains killed my plant (sobs). It is too early to put the seed in, but we’ve had an almost non existent winter (today was sunny at 25 degrees celcius). It’s going to be a HOT Summer this year. Hopefully that means Sturt Peas!!
4. Kangaroo paws are back woohooo!
I grew a red and green k-paw from seed last year (why only one? The kids tipped out my pots arrrgh!). Anyhow. It grew big enough to divide so I split it in three. They didn’t like that much. But now they’re in recovery. Can’t wait till I can share flowers with you all.
5. Syzygium australe (lilly pilly).
This one grows to about 10m and has sour purplely pink fruit when mature. My kids love to eat them so I bought three as tubestock. We’ll see if they survive the summer out here.
6. And to end with something utterly unrelated…. my little pot of string of pearls is flowering! I broke a little piece off Mum’s plant and it is taking off.
I hadn’t seen them flower before. Isn’t it pretty!
Well that’s me for this Saturday. Just scraped in to join the fun but better late than not at all.
On that note… Please head on over to the Propagator’s blog at…
There are days where hard physical work is a godsend to keep my mind away from difficult thoughts (Don’t you just love depression … And yes that was a bitter sarcastic tone you heard).
And then there are bad days. Mental illness doesn’t always visit alone. Sometimes it has company. My depression has a companion called autoimmune arthritis. I don’t like either of them very much.
What has this got to do with treasure?
On days where I’m in pain and feeling low I have a choice. Let the hopelessness bury me. Or allow myself be human and be kind to myself. Yes I am faulty. Flawed. Weak. Hurting. Lazy. Uninspired. Self absorbed. But aren’t all people at some point?
So I pamper myself with a treasure hunt. Do you work away in the garden and miss the little things sometimes? I do.
Feeling sick is a wonderful reason to take time to enjoy your garden. Go for a very slow wander and inspect all the plants. Search for flowers and mushrooms and all of the things that on busy days you may miss.
On bad days it helps to slow down and make time for yourself. Be gentle and forgiving to yourself as best you can. And focus on tomorrow being a new day to try again.
After all you never know what treasures are waiting in your future…
Today the sun came out for me. My meds began to work ever so slightly. I could breathe. My friend and her kids came with us to our block of land. The joy of a road trip with friends. No rush. Nothing fancy just enjoying a happy moment.
And then we stopped the cars…. What on earth is that? Walked for a closer look…
This is only the second Echinda I have seen in 33 years of life. None of the kids had seen one before. I went to scoop him off the road thinking a car had clipped him and off he waddled! I had no idea Echidna could waddle so fast!
How we laughed. The kids peered out the windows and demanded to know why this was not a hedgehog.
These moments make it all worthwhile. Treasure. Just waiting for us all to stop a while and look for it.
When you feel low do you enjoy a little garden centre therapy? Me too!
There is something about getting out of the house and wandering through a nursery which makes me feel a little more alive.
Being surrounded by people who are doing something they love.
Hearing people talk about their designs for the garden.
Reading the labels. Looking at the planting displays and ideas.
Always leaving with an unexpected purchase and an idea and excited hope.
A lifetime ago I worked at a nursery. I used to enjoy watching people. All sorts of people explore nurseries. Gardens don’t judge you. You can be depressed or unable to hold a conversation and it doesn’t matter. Gardens are a good place to find solace and healing.
It led me to believe a good nursery realises sometimes people have little money to spend or need company and a gentle, happy space. It welcomes everyone regardless. Gives them time and space to wander and touch and dream and hope and talk to others about something they love.
Which brings me to my point… I wanted to share my favourite nursery with you. I was hoping you might feel inspired to write a post in return to share your favourite nursery with me too. If you would like to I’d love a link in the replies. I love seeing new places 😊.
Welcome to Zanthorrea Nursery!
Even the name makes me smile. Named after our Grass trees (Xanthorrea) with a humour that realises and accepts not everyone is a plant nerd and knows how to pronounce or spell that.
It is also an Australian native plant nursery. There are gardens throughout beautifully maintained to show people how our plants can be beautiful too.
Enough of me waffling… The pictures speak for themselves. Enjoy.
This is my favourite place to go when I need a boost.
Will you share yours too? I can’t wait to see nurseries from around the world!